The front page of the Press and Journal documents the recovery of the wreckage of Dan-Air flight 0034. (Press and Journal)

On the 31st of July 1979, a chartered airliner carrying oil workers home from the Shetland Islands failed to become airborne on takeoff from Sumburgh Airport. The Hawker Siddeley HS 748 with 47 people aboard careened off the end of the runway and crashed into the freezing waters of the North Sea, which quickly began to fill the cabin. As the passengers struggled to escape, the plane started to sink nose first, slipping beneath the waves with passengers and crew alike still trapped inside. …


An artist’s impression of the collision, originally printed in an edition of Reader’s Digest from 1966. (Reader’s Digest, artist unknown)

On the 4th of December 1965, an incredible drama unfolded in the skies above New York when an Eastern Airlines Super Constellation collided in midair with a TWA Boeing 707 at 11,000 feet. Both planes, severely crippled, hurtled onward, their crews working furiously to save the lives of their passengers. The 707, missing 25 feet off of its left wing, managed to turn around and make a harrowing emergency landing at New York’s JFK International Airport, narrowly avoiding disaster. The Constellation lost all of its pitch controls, and despite their best efforts, the pilots could not reach any airport. In…


An early map of possible debris sightings, from the days before the crash site was found. (Asia One)

On the first of January 2007, an Indonesian Boeing 737 with 102 passengers and crew on board disappeared amid heavy thunderstorms over the Makassar Strait. For days, searchers scouring both on land and in the water found no trace of the plane. When a signal from the black boxes was detected on the ocean floor three weeks later, it seemed that the truth would soon be found — but in fact, the ordeal was just beginning. Six months of bureaucratic bickering ensued while the airline tried to avoid paying for the recovery. All that time, the black boxes lay beneath…


RwandAir flight 205 sits lodged in the side of the VIP lounge at Kigali International Airport. (RCAA)

On the 12th of November 2009, a bizarre incident unfolded in Kigali, Rwanda. Shortly after departure, the crew of a CRJ-100 regional jet realized that their left engine was jammed at high power and wouldn’t slow down. The pilots successfully returned to the airport for an emergency landing, and despite being unable to reduce thrust on the left engine, they managed to taxi off the runway and into the parking area. But before the passengers could disembark, the aircraft — powered by the still-running engine — lurched forward, swerved wildly across the parking apron, and plowed into the side of…


The severed tail of Mozambique’s presidential aircraft lies on a hillside on the border of South Africa and Mozambique. (OZY)

On the 19th of October 1986, a Tupolev Tu-134 jet carrying Mozambican president Samora Machel crashed into a hill in what was then apartheid South Africa, killing Machel and 34 others in a disaster that rocked the continent. Mozambique, already fighting a brutal civil war, reeled from the sudden loss of its founding father. Accusations over the crash flew in every direction. The basic problem was that the president’s plane never should have been in South Africa at all: the two countries were mortal enemies, and the flight path was not supposed to leave Mozambique. Although the crash site was…


Sidewalk art commemorates the victims of MH370. (Ted Alijibe)

“Good night, Malaysian three seven zero.”

Seven years have now gone since this last fateful transmission, so laden with the dark shadow of premonition, that marked the passing of MH370 into the realm of legend. Exactly one minute and forty-three seconds later, a dramatic and mysterious sequence of events would begin to unfold, the opening chapter in a story that transfixed the world.

At 1:20 a.m. on the 8th of March 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared from radar over the South China Sea and embarked on an enigmatic journey to the most remote corner of the Indian Ocean. Confused…


Firefighters respond to SmartLynx Estonia flight 9001 after its emergency landing. (aviation-accidents.net)

On the 28th of February 2018, two pilots, four trainees, and an inspector departed Tallinn, Estonia for a routine training flight aboard an Airbus A320. But as the last student pilot carried out a touch-and-go landing, the plane was wracked by a series of confusing mechanical failures. The pilots lost all control over the elevators; the plane lost height and scraped the runway on its engines before careening back into the air. The elevators were jammed, the other flight controls were degraded, the flaps weren’t working, the right engine was on fire. Every conceivable warning blared simultaneously. Faced with impending…


Wreckage from Dan-Air flight 1008 lies on a mountainside in the Canary Islands. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)

On the 25th of April 1980, a Boeing 727 carrying British tourists to Tenerife in the Canary Islands flew off course in fog and slammed into the side of La Esperanza, killing all 146 passengers and crew. The setting for the disaster was familiar for all the wrong reasons: just three years earlier, the very same airport on this tiny Atlantic island had played host to the deadliest aircraft accident in history. The curse of Tenerife, which had already claimed so many lives, had struck again. But in trying to piece together why the crew of Dan-Air flight 1008 found…


The wreckage of FedEx flight 80 at Narita Airport after the crash. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)

On the 23rd of March 2009, a FedEx cargo plane was landing at Tokyo’s Narita Airport when something went terribly wrong. The plane bounced, dived into the runway, flipped upside down, and exploded, leaving a trail of fiery wreckage strewn across the airport in full view of passengers in the terminal. Although firefighters hurried to save the crewmembers, it was too late: both pilots, the only people on board the wide body MD-11, were killed in the crash. What struck investigators was the similarity to another accident nearly 12 years earlier, in which another FedEx MD-11 touched down, bounced, flipped…


The tail section of Crossair flight 3597 lies in a forest where it came to rest during the crash. (Ronan Hubert)

On the 24th of November 2001, a regional jet flying for Swiss carrier Crossair slammed into a hillside near Zürich, Switzerland while on final approach. Twenty-four people were killed, while nine managed to escape with their lives. The crash was the second for Crossair in less than two years, and the people of Switzerland were beginning to ask questions. The investigation into the accident would reveal an all-too-familiar story: an assertive captain, an inexperienced first officer, a last-minute runway change, a navigational error. They would discover a pilot with a history of outlandish misadventures that defied common sense. In a…

Admiral_Cloudberg

Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (soon™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at kylanddempsey@gmail.com.

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